Vikings DEs hoping to frustrate Cutler early

Defensive ends Everson Griffen and Brian Robison believe Jay Cutler gets frustrated when he is hit early, making that their goal on Sunday in Soldier Field.

The Minnesota Vikings travel down to Chicago to take on a struggling Bears team. On offense, a lot of the Bears’ problems could tie into the lack of protection that the offensive line has been giving the quarterback.

The Bears’ offensive line has given up 24 sacks so far this year – although some sacks could be credited to the quarterback holding onto the ball too long, or the receivers not getting open down field – which puts them tied for 12th-worst in the NFL.

This year, Minnesota’s defense has produced 30 total sacks – 23 of which have come from the defensive line – and you can assume they will be looking to add to that total against the Bears.

“Teams, they’re getting back there and hitting Jay Cutler,” said Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen. “Getting him frustrated a little bit. But our whole objective is just to focus on the Minnesota Vikings and do our job, and once we do that then everything, the win, will take care of itself.”

In the last two games the Vikings have played – against Washington and Tampa Bay – that is exactly what they have been able to do. Part of that is learning how to rush really well together and getting to the quarterback to get the sack.

The defense’s ability to play well with each one another has led them to be able to get sacks in bunches, as they have got 10 sacks during their two-game winning streak.

“I just think all four of us are rushing together really well,” said Vikings defensive end Brian Robison. “When we add Barr in the mix with that fifth guy, he’s learning to rush off of us a little bit and it’s just one of those deals where we’ve really been able to get around these quarterbacks’ feet.”

Adding a player like Anthony Barr to the mix really helps when it comes to the rushing the passer. He is big, fast, strong, and has the instincts to find his way to the quarterback. Barr has four sacks on the season, and if the Vikings hope to keep winning they will need him to keep producing, along with the rest of the defense.

On most NFL teams the offense is run through the quarterback, and that is no different in Chicago, as it seems to be where Cutler goes, so goes the offense. This has not been good for the Bears the last couple of weeks as defenses have been able to get to him and really throw him off his game. And now the Vikings want to continue that trend.

“We’ve got to hit (Cutler),” Robison said. “Bottom line is when you look at when he’s getting frustrated, it’s because he’s getting hit. ... If he has all day to sit back there and really pick out his receivers, he’s pretty dang good. So we’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

With offensive weapons spread all across the field in Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, and Martellus Bennett, it will be important for the Vikings defense to get to Cutler and make things difficult for him. And after a long bye week, the Vikings defense will be looking to get their share of sacks that the Bears have been giving up.


  • Rookie RB Jerick McKinnon was added to the injury report Thursday with a lower back injury. He was limited in practice. McKinnon leads the Vikings with 90 rushes for 446 yards and has 20 catches for 106 yards.

  • Rookie DE Scott Crichton didn’t practice Thursday because of a hip injury.

  • TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen/groin) practiced fully for the first time since having sports hernia surgery in September and is likely to play Sunday. TE Chase Ford (foot) also practiced fully Thursday.

  • For the Bears, TE Martellus Bennett (ribs) and WR Brandon Marshall (ankle) returned to practice on a limited basis after not practicing on Wednesday. LB Darryl Sharpton (hamstring) was also limited.

  • OL Eben Britton (illness), T Jordan Mills (ribs), WR Josh Morgan (shoulder), CB Terrance Mitchell (illness) and DE Trevor Scott (knee) didn’t practice Thursday.

  • CB Tim Jennings (knee) and DE Cornelius Washington (illness) were full participants after missing Wednesday.

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